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Alaska Unemployment rate at 7.0 percent in March

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 7.0 percent, unchanged from February’s revised rate. The comparable national rate was 8.2 percent.

The U.S. and Alaska rates have both continued to trend downward, though Alaska’s has reached typical long-term levels while the nation’s remains historically high. During the past decade, the nation’s unemployment rate ranged from 4.7 to 6.0 percent during nonrecessionary years.

March rates for Alaska’s boroughs and census areas — which are not seasonally adjusted — vary widely. Rural Alaska had both the lowest and highest rates.

The Hoonah-Angoon Census Area’s rate of 25.8 percent was the highest in the state. Hoonah-Angoon has high year-round unemployment, and last year its rate never fell below double digits. Other areas with persistently high unemployment include the Wade Hampton, Nome, Yukon-Koyukuk and Bethel census areas, and the Northwest Arctic Borough.

The Aleutians West Census Area is an example of a rural area with a strong seasonal swing — its rate was lowest in the state in March at 4.9 percent, but in December it hit 19.7 percent. The Bristol Bay and Denali boroughs have similar cycles of signifi cant economic activity followed by extended lulls, often driven by fi shing and visitor seasons.

The state’s more populated areas — such as Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks — typically have lowerthan-average unemployment rates and less variation throughout the year. They seldom have the lowest rates in the state, however. None of their annual rates reached double digits in 2011, and they rarely climb that high in any part of the year.

Research and Analysis Web site: laborstats.alaska.gov

 

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